NASA Aeronautics:

Protecting Sensitive Technology

NSIAD-93-201: Published: Aug 12, 1993. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) efforts to control the transfer of its competitively sensitive aeronautics information to the U.S. industry's foreign competitors, focusing on: (1) how NASA controls the disclosure of sensitive information; (2) whether NASA has an information control problem; and (3) what actions are needed to improve its information control program.

GAO found that: (1) although most NASA scientific and technical aeronautics publications are publicly available, some documents are restricted depending on the type of sensitive information they contain; (2) NASA controls competitively sensitive information by implementing obstacles that make the identification of technical and scientific information more difficult; (3) there was no sufficient evidence to support conclusions that NASA transferred competitively sensitive information to foreign competitors; (4) the NASA Ames Research Center management review lacked sufficient evidence to support its findings; (5) although competitively sensitive information is not the subject of most Freedom of Information Act requests, requests for competitively sensitive information are likely to increase if Congress approves further development of commercially-relevant advanced subsonic technology; and (6) NASA has improved its information controls by implementing specific processes to handle competitively sensitive information and establishing an overall aeronautics technology transfer policy.

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